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Clear, wadable water enticed me to a long river pool with several deadfalls that I expected to harbor bass. I was wrong. The submerged branches were full of crappies that had migrated upstream from the reservoir that the stream feeds. Mini Minnies in white/silver counted to a depth of 3 feet before imparting short, slow strips brought aggressive strikes. If the vertical drop was intercepted before reaching 3 feet the fish tended to be a bit small, but when the fly was able to fall just a few counts deeper the crappies were in the 10- to 12-inch range. I released them all but I lost count about an hour before my last cast. Just lovin’ spring!
Lots of rain and roller-coaster temperatures left the water in my “go-to” pond high and discolored, but the 87-degree afternoon lured me out with my fly rod. Casts to deep wood structure were ignored despite numerous fly changes. Finally, I theorized that the darkened water protected the fish’s eyes from the intense sunlight and that the warmest water would be in the shallows. I tied on a chartreuse Bully’s Bluegill Spider that would be most easily visible and cat parallel to the shoreline. The fly was repeatedly hit on the verticle drop. Thirty bluegills, most over 8 inches, made deep bends in my 3-weight before I released them. It’s been a tough spring, but fishing is still the best part of it.
A break in the weather sent me to a spring’s entrance to a well-structured pool. The river was higher than normal by a few inches leaving the area wadable while creating large, slow eddies both above and below the spring’s flow. Deadfall branches border the upper eddy and bowling ball-sized rocks are scattered through the lower one. Full-sinking line that sinks at 3 i.p.s. carried a size-10 gray-over-silver zonker with a double mono weed guard to the deepest tree branches. The second cast brought a strike that was missed. The next slow retrieve produced the hookup of fat green sunfish. Several others came to hand before a 10-inch largemouth was brought to the net. A move to the downstream eddy changed the game as three rock bass preceded a tug of war with a feisty 12-inch smallmouth that sent me ashore with a big smile.
The rapid onset of winter weather has slowed the warmwater fishes’ metabolisms. In the hope of locating river fish that have entered spring branches to feed, I waded into a familiar spring pool with a constant 54-degree water temperature and began casting down and across the current with size-12 nymphs. Twenty minutes without a hit led me to a large slow eddy and a fly change to a size-10 white/silver Mini Minnie. The first strip of line was halted by a firm tug which led to the landing of a chunky Rock Bass, locally known as Goggle Eye. Eight more came to hand before the action ceased. Further upstream on the spring branch I went fishless as the warmwater immigrants had not yet moved that far.